Before she retired from wrestling in 2015, she was usually booked as the “crazy” Diva, skipping to the ring and often prone to hysterical breakdowns. But outside the world of kayfabe, former WWE Divas Champion AJ Lee was diagnosed as bipolar in her early 20s, and she wants to raise awareness about the condition while encouraging fans to similarly “embrace (their) crazy.”
Known outside of the ring as April Mendez-Brooks, AJ Lee was, at one point, the longest-reigning Divas Champion in WWE history. She was also well-received for her technical ability in the ring, although many fans still remember her numerous storyline relationships, including those with Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler, and future real-life husband CM Punk, as well as the “crazy” behavior that would manifest in these storylines and others. But as AJ admitted earlier today on her official website, she and her family have had some very real battles with mental illness through the years.
— 411 Wrestling (@411wrestling) February 2, 2017
In a blog post on AJMendezBrooks.com entitled “Silence, Interrupted,” AJ Lee wrote about her struggle with bipolar disorder, and how other family members had fought their own battles with mental illness while she was a child. She describes a time when she thought the word “crazy” meant something negative, and how the stigma that comes with mental illness causes many to treat it as quietly as possible. Lee said that she and her family tried to ignore the problem as long as possible, but they only realized the ramifications of mental disorders when she was diagnosed with one.
“I was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder when I was barely out of my teens. Like our olive skin tone and caterpillar eyebrows, I guess it just runs in the family.”
After her diagnosis, Lee had feared the worst, thinking that her bipolar disorder would turn out to be her “impenetrable prison.” She admitted to using the condition as an excuse for “embarrassingly bad behavior and dangerous decision-making,” but she chose not to elaborate on these events in her blog post. But she did add that she was ultimately able to make the most out of her bipolar disorder, and let it inspire her to achieve greater things in life.
“My diagnosis didn’t have to be an affliction. It could simply be the gift of extraordinary emotions. When a loved one hurt, I could feel their pain with every inch of my skin through my super human ability of empathy. When I witnessed injustice, my anger was transformed into righteous indignation, and nothing could stop me from raising my voice.”
The National Institute of Mental Health’s website describes bipolar disorder as a condition that causes “unusual” mood swings and unpredictable changes in energy and activity levels and hampers one’s ability to do everyday tasks as they should. According to the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, the disorder affects about 5.7 million adult Americans each year or about 2.6 percent of the U.S. population aged 18 and above. It’s also a condition that oftentimes does run in the family as over two-thirds of bipolar sufferers have at least one close relative also suffering from the illness or dealing with unipolar major depression.
— WrestlingNewsSource (@WNSource) January 22, 2017
As she admitted on her blog, AJ Lee is one of the millions of adult Americans dealing with bipolar disorder, and while she had previously kept it a secret, she’s now “proud” of her condition. She added that that was also the driving factor that inspired her to write an autobiography. Lee’s book, Crazy is My Superpower: How I Triumphed by Breaking Bones, Breaking Hearts, and Breaking the Rules, is due for release on April 4.
With her autobiography due two months from now, AJ Lee said that she hopes to serve as a “resource” for other bipolar sufferers, as well as those battling other forms of mental illness.
“Even if your battle is a different one, my message to you is the same: Embrace your crazy, your imperfection, your weakness–whatever it may be–because it is the most special thing about you.”
[Featured Image by WWE]